RANDOLPH _ Emily Huber's toe began to hurt near the end of the Morris County Fencing Championships.
Huber, a Morris Knolls senior, wasn't going to let a little pain thwart her chance at a title so she ignored it, pushing onward.
Not long after, Huber realized she had made the right decision and posed proudly with the rewards - a pair of gold medals. She earned one for being the top individual in sabre with a 5-0 record in the final rounds. The second time, Huber, 11-2 overall at the championships held on Saturday, Jan. 7 at Randolph High School, stood with her Golden Eagles teammates, who took first in sabre as a squad.
"In other years, I've done pretty well but I wasn't expecting it today," Huber said.
The reason behind her pessimism was the broken pinkie toe on her right foot. Huber sustained the injury when she was playfully pushed from behind by her older sister, Kelly, who was home on break from James Madison College and feared that it would hamper her mobility.
"I didn't think I would move well," Huber explained. "I had to push off on my right foot to change direction."
As it turned out, Huber had little trouble moving up and down the strip. In her final bout of the day, though, Huber was pained more by the fact that she had to fence against Kayla Legatt of Randolph. The duo have been friends since meeting at a freshman-sophomore tournament four years ago. Huber edged out Legatt, 5-4.
"I didn't want to have to fence against Kayla," Huber said. "That was pretty difficult. It came down to the last touch. She congratulated me and we talked about it afterwards."
Morris Hills' Chloe Chinnadurai, a junior, and Lucille Tsao, a senior, were first in epee and foil, respectively.
Chinnadurai had quite a stressful day, having to fence Mendham's Laura Boden, the 2016 champion, three times. She triumphed over Boden in a pool bout, 5-4, then fell by the same score in the individual session. At the conclusion of the individual pool round, Chinnadurai, Boden and Anna Klaassen of West Morris were tied and had to engage in a three-way barrage/round robin to determine the winner.
Another hard-fought bout ensued when Chinnadurai and Boden clashed. Chinnadurai defeated Boden 5-3 in the decisive match.
"I'm absolutely excited," Chinnadurai said. "It's always a battle against Lauren. It goes back and forth. She's a lefty and is really tall. She uses a French grip so she has more reach. It's hard to double against her. You have to get in first. I fixed my point control and stayed on her elbow."
Scarlet Knights coach Andrew "Lefty" Zlotnick was ecstatic for Chinnadurai.
"Chloe works so hard," Zlotnick said. "She comes to our club, too, and gives it all she has. Chloe is an incredible athlete and person. She listened to her coaches and did what she needed to do."
Zlotnick said Chinnadurai was nervous for the entire day.
"By the time it got to the barrage, Chloe was very nervous," he said. "She powered through. She was focused 100 percent on the task."
Not only was Tsao the individual epee champion, Morris Hills was the No. 1 squad.
"It was a good day," said Tsao, who will fence and likely major in neuroscience at Wellesley College. "I put my mind to winning and focused only on fencing. I blocked everything out. It felt very natural."
Tsao didn't get flustered when her opponents got points, she simply stayed on task.
"I relaxed and remained calm," Tsao said. "I kept fencing as if it was a clean slate."
Tsao's third bout of the individuals was versus Mendham's Sara Persau and she considered it the toughest. With the score knotted, 4-4, Tsao got the final touch.
Mendham, led by Boden, Persau, Sezin Sakmar and Gabrielle Tambini, repeated as team champion, amassing 56 points. Morris Hills (51 points), Morris Knolls (39) and Morristown (38) rounded out the top four.
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